Q & A: The Basenji


  • September 19, 2019
  • Various Guest Experts

Above photos from the article “Judging The Basenji” (ShowSight July 2017 Issue) by Marianne Klinkowski, Judges Education Chair, Basenji Club Of America.

 

We asked the following questions to our friends in the Basenji community. Below are their responses, which are taken from the September 2019 issue of ShowSight. Click to subscribe

 

  1. Where do you live? What do you do “outside” of dogs?
  2. How many years in Basenjis? Showing? Judging? Breeding?
  3. What, in your opinion, is the secret to a successful breeding program?
  4. Advice to a new Basenji judge?
  5. Known as the barkless dog, the Basenji has extremely loyal owners. What is it about the breed that makes them irreplaceable in your life?
  6. “Wash and Wear” dogs appear to need little grooming for the show ring. But is that true? How much time do you spend per week preparing these coatless beauties for exhibition?
  7. What is the breed’s most endearing quality?
  8. Is the breed’s temperament ideal for indoor life or is the breed mostly an outdoors dog?
  9. How do you place your puppies?
  10. At what age do you choose a show prospect?
  11. What is your favorite dog show memory?
  12. Is there anything else you’d like to share about the breed? Please elaborate.

 

Damara Bolte

I have been immersed in Basenjis since 1955 when I worked for Bettina Belmont Ward and was given Bettina’s Fedha who became the Foundation of Reveille Basenjis. The emphasis has always been on quality not quantity with a litter bred maybe once a year or two or three. I have handled a good many Basenjis over the years including nine Best In Show winners. I was a BCOA Board member and wrote the breed column of the AKC Gazette for over three decades. My avocation has been professional handling, my career was as an Animal Husbandman for the National Institutes of Health. I studied animal sculpture in Paris and have pursued this consuming interest in free moments. I accompanied Jon Curby and Stan Carter on the ‘88 Basenji search in Zaire. Hopefully with honesty, objectivity, perseverance, dedication and teamwork, fanciers; with the aid of research and technology, will realize definitive tests and thereby solutions to Basenji health problems, fortunately much has been accomplished in this field. The Basenji Club of America is a cohesive and driving force in preserving the Basenji!

I live in the country seven miles north of Leesburg, Virginia. My property is a 24 acre wooded lot with a house and kennel. I have a small kennel for when I was handling and now for my retirees and including two intact bitches. The dogs have always been a primary consideration as my Purdue degree was in animal husbandry and my profession was managing closed colonies of laboratory animals (mice, rats, etc.) at NIH.

Over the years I have done some limited traveling and also have an interest in art sculpture. I studied sculpture one winter in Paris and continued this interest on a moderate scale upon my return home and enjoyed the time spent that gave me a sense of satisfaction. I have done many limited edition bronzes and commissioned works for personal art collections and Memorial trophies.

I’ve had Basenjis for 65 years. Upon graduation I discovered the job world was not clamoring for a female animal husbandry graduate! I did find a job with Bettina Belmont Ward as she envisioned a small kennel in Middleburg, Virginia. She introduced me to Basenjis and she gave me my foundation bitch, CH Bettina’s Fedha aka “Chipmunk”. She finished her championship at the Garden in 1947. She was bred to the sire of my choice, Black Clarion of the Congo. So 65 years later I am once again excited about the prospect of another litter. Actually by comparison to some breeders, I have limited numbers.

Bettina Ward had exhibited Pekingese for many years so exhibiting her Basenjis was part of my Kennel Manager job. I was hooked on the breed so that 60 years later I’m still hooked. It was a learning experience and actually still is!

Any successful breeder needs to be objective, open minded, cautious to know one’s limits, careful especially with health matters and must be dedicated to the successes and sorrows involved.

My advice to a new Basenji judge, look at as many Basenjis as you can. Talk to all the knowledgeable breeders you can. Become familiar with the Standard and develop a mental picture of your ideal. Understand their purpose and bear in mind the movement and condition of this athlete.

What is it about the breed that makes them irreplaceable in your life? They are charming and unique critters. Generally quiet, clean of body and limb and a pleasure to look at.

How much time do I spend per week preparing for exhibition? The care and training of a “Wash and Wear” Basenji still takes time and effort! You must keep dog(s) in optimum condition at all times. They need regular and consistent supervised/quality exercise, consistent care, high quality food and lots of TLC with a great/extensive sense of humor! The actual coat requires very little ie. cleanliness, some brushing, quality food and no fleas/ticks.

What is the breed’s most endearing quality? They are interesting, cute, playful, convenient size, shape to please. Definitely not a ho-hum breed!

Is a Basenji’s temperament ideal for indoor life or is he mostly an outdoors dog? Indoors to be supervised and socialized. Must have adequate exercise. Basenjis must be tired when left alone so your house remains intact! They love to be warm and cozy. They can enjoy a place to run free in cold weather and then come inside to curl up next to the wood stove.

How do I place my puppies? Carefully! The main reason we breed a litter so seldom is that many folks don’t need a Basenji. You must be willing to put the time an effort into making yours and the Basenji’s experience a successful one! If it works for all then you most likely will always have a Basenji in your life!

At what age do I choose a show prospect? We usually evaluate our litters at eight to ten weeks. We have had many weeks to observe and evaluate. We like to have at least two sets of shots done before the pups leave Reveille for new homes. Then hope and pray everything holds together.

My favorite dog show memory? Winning the Hound Group at Westminster in 1972 with CH Reveille Re-Up. My mother said I had been a “BEAR” for weeks before the 1972 WKC show. No matter what the outcome I had decided that it was to be Uppity’s last show. Naturally I hoped it would be a good one!

Expect to spend a lot of time and care in order for your Basenji to fulfill its potential. Definitely they are an interesting breed with many unique antics. Somewhat of a challenge, but well worth the effort put into raising, training, socializing and conditioning
him/her.

 

Susan Coe

We started in Basenjis in 1970 while we lived in Calgary, Canada. As well we’ve lived with our dogs in Washington state, Pennsylvania and now Australia. I was quite active in the Basenji Club of America serving on the Board of Directors for many years. I also published/edited and everything else, The Basenji magazine for about 25 years. In 1975 Jon and I self-published a fun book about Basenjis entitled Curly Tales and Other Basenji Nonsense. I wrote a general book about the breed which was first published in 1990 entitled The Basenji, Out of Africa to You. Since moving to Australia, I have shown less but continue with the BCOA keeping the Club’s website and The Basenji University. Here in Victoria I serve on the Committee for the Basenji Club of Victoria and prepare the Club’s bi-monthly newsletter. Over the years I have been involved with over 250 AKC champion Basenjis and now have my first
Australian champion.

What hobbies do I enjoy outside of dogs? Gardening is my favorite pastime. I also have a strong interest in the conservation of
natural ecosystems.

We started in Basenjis 49 years ago. I showed a great deal and bred only Basenjis. I breed now only as a co-breeder. We have one Basenji and one Saluki that are our pets and get to go to some shows.

The secret to a successful breeding program is being impartial enough to evaluate your own as well as others’ dogs. Also, one must take the time to train yourself improving your ability to visualize what the standard is requiring.

My advice to a new Basenji judge: learn all the parts but judge the whole dog.

What is it about the breed that makes them irreplaceable in my life? They are full of themselves with a great attitude for life.

How much time do I spend per week preparing for exhibition? During shedding season in the spring, they need to be brushed or massaged to encourage shedding. For a show they get a bath. If they get dirty feet before judging, they will need a foot/leg bath. Many need their tails tidied up with scissors.

The breed’s most endearing quality is their intelligence makes them naughty and fun.

Is their temperament ideal for indoor life or are they mostly an outdoors dog? Indoor dog and mostly in one’s lap.

How do I place my puppies? Contacts are now mostly made via the internet.

At what age do I choose a show prospect? At seven to nine weeks.

My favorite dog show memory? This is the hardest question as there are many. Mostly they involves successes with training if it is only finally getting a new dog to trot on a leash or sharing the show life with a top winning individual dog. In either case one gets very close to the dog and that makes it special.

I think our breed has remained fairly true of its African roots and it would be good to see this continue with moderately-built dogs with strong, bold personalities.

 

Julie Dugan

I enjoy participating in the sport of judging the Conformation of dogs. The Basenji is my current breed, they are the all-around hound and they keep me entertained daily. The Irish Setter and Siberian Husky were my past charmers. Their elegance and joyful endurance remain in my recollections. Junior Showmanship has been a part of my life as my daughter flourished within it and aged out.

My club affiliations are the Wilmington Kennel Club, Basenji Club of America, Mid Atlantic Basenji Club and Mid Atlantic Stewards Association. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Elementary Education from Temple University.

I live in Delaware and I enjoy running my dogs daily. I am an AKC Judge and am always working on new breeds.

I have loved the Basenji for 16 years of which we have shown all our dogs to Championship and beyond and I have reached top 25 with five dogs/bitches.

The secret to a successful breeding program? Look at the dog, not just the pedigree.

My advice to a new Basenji judge: never approach a Basenji from the rear and don’t linger in your examination.

What is it about the breed that makes them irreplaceable in my life? They keep me laughing!

How much time do I spend per week preparing for exhibition? The coats are easy but the perfect tail grooming can take an hour.

What is the breed’s most endearing quality? My dog, Simon, gives the best hugs.

Is the breed’s temperament ideal for indoor life or are they mostly an outdoors breed? Indoors, they are extremely quiet.

How do I place my puppies? Most puppy people find me via Basenji Club Of America breeder directory.

At what age do I choose a show prospect? By eight weeks, I know the one.

My favorite dog show memory is the 2005 BCOA National in Rhode Island, The Ritz.

The Basenji is the all around hound and can fit into most family lives. The Basenjis are very musical as they are known as “The Singing Dog”.

 

Penelope Inan

I became interested in dog shows as a child, and attended my first show in the late 1950s—an outdoor benched show—with an aunt who raised Pomeranians. In 1973, following a divorce, I moved in with my sister (Sandra Bridges) and her family in Northern California—bringing with me my companion Basenji and a show bitch I had been given by his breeder. As I wasn’t interested in handling, Sandy was drafted. I bred my first litter in 1974, but we lost all but two puppies. Sandy and I co-bred for the next few years—taking JATO as a kennel name in honor of our late aunt.

In 1977, I married and moved to Hayward, but continued showing and breeding. I put a CD on my companion dog—he was High Scoring Basenji at the 1976 BCOA Western Specialty. Later in the 1980s, I put an ASFA field championship on my black and white Australian Ch. Balshah Allakazam. I was the original editor for the BCOA Bulletin Board, and am a past President of the Basenji Club of Northern California.

In 1992, my late husband and I moved to Turkey (his native country) when he retired. He died in 1996, and my son and I moved back in with my sister and her husband. She and I co-bred our last Basenji litter in 1998, from which came Ch. Jato Jenrl’y Speaking (a National Specialty BOW under Lauris Hunt from Australia, and a group-placing bitch) and Ch. Jato Jenr’l Principles (the youngest group placing Basenji at that time).

In 1998 we began breeding and showing Chinese Cresteds. I became Judges’ Education Coordinator for the American Chinese Crested Club in 2007 and during the eight years of my tenure we updated the Illustrated Guide originally created by AKC in 1991, and created the PowerPoint Presentation, both still in use today.

We discovered the Xoloitzcuintli in 2010, when we acquired a co-ownership of a Miniature Coated girl. She became GCH Azuwyn’s Ain’t Miss B Havin—the first Coated Champion anywhere in the world in any internationally recognized registry, and her photo is in the new AKC book. She is also the dam of two Coated Champion daughters, who look much like their mother.

I am a member of the Santa Clara Valley Kennel Club, the Chinese Crested Club of Greater Los Angeles, the Gold Coast Xoloitzcuintli Club of Southern California, as well as a member of the Judges’ Education Committee for the American Chinese Crested Club, the Basenji Club of America and the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America. I am currently Secretary of the Angeles Canyon Dog Club and the Xoloitzcuintli Club of America.

I began judging Basenjis in 2002 and am now approved for Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, Chihuahuas, Chinese Cresteds, English Toy Spaniels, Italian Greyhounds, Japanese Chins, Papillons, Pekingese, Pugs, Pomeranians and Xoloitzcuintli; I am Permit for Anatolian Shepherds, Finnish Spitz, Norwegian Elkhounds, Shiba Inu and Whippets. I am continuing to study and expect to apply for more Hounds, Toys, and Non-Sporting breeds in the near future. I’m in Palmdale, north of Los Angeles. I’m an old-fashioned retired housewife (lost my husband in 1996) and mostly judge, occasionally show, and rarely breed. I got my first show Basenji in 1974, and co-bred my last litter in 1998.

The secret to a successful breeding program is learning pedigrees and breeding for correct type. All dogs have faults—breed for virtues while trying to not incorporate faults you don’t have.

My advice to a new Basenji judge: remember this is a primitive breed—be respectful and please don’t uncurl the tail. The main breed characteristics are square, curly tail, small ears and
wrinkled forehead.

What is it about the breed that makes them irreplaceable in your life? My allergies prevent me from living with them now but they are endlessly entertaining, challenging and so beautiful.

How much time do I spend per week preparing for exhibition? Cleanliness applies to all breeds—nail care, teeth care and currying to remove dead hair are essential.

What is the breed’s most endearing quality? Their creativity and clown-like antics.

Is the breed’s temperament ideal for indoor life or are they mostly an outdoors breed? They are good indoor dogs but need exercise and challenging activities.

How do I place my puppies? We have always concentrated on pet homes, and for show prospects—either we kept or found those pet homes that allowed us to show.

At what age do I choose a show prospect? Eight weeks, with the lines we had, gave us a good idea of what the adult would be.

My favorite dog show memory? Getting the third leg on my first Basenji’s CD—boy, was I glad that was done!

In the show ring, too often the typey, little square dog with level topline and balanced movement loses to the flashy, sweeping mover. Remember, these are jungle dogs—not plains dogs. They were carried to the hunt around the necks of pygmies—imagine the dogs you see in the ring in that position. Will they be small and compact enough for that?

 

Carole Kirk

I currently live in Kentucky. I am retired now, but worked for various branches of the US Federal Government for 27 years. Now that I’m retired I can devote all my time to all things dog.

I got my first Basenji in 1990 to show and have something to do. So almost 30 years in the breed. I primarily show in conformation but have also participated in lure coursing and I bred/co-own a dog who has several agility titles thanks to his co-owner. I’ve judged a couple of sweepstakes for specialties/supported entries and have considered going for my judging license for Basenjis. I occasionally breed a litter and am currently showing a young dog who goes back to my foundation bitch.

The secret to a successful breeding program? Having a vision of what you want to accomplish and working towards that. How to get there can and will change over the years, but you keep working towards your vision. And that requires patience as well. Genetics at times can be a crap shoot as we well know. Sometimes breedings that look good on paper just don’t turn out like we thought they would. Our breed normally only comes into season one time per year so that can and does limit the number of litters that can be produced. From my first litter to now I have also worked to incorporate the newer African lines into my lines. Doing so does require time and patience to reach your vision as these breedings are usually out crosses. And if you are someone like myself who only breeds occasionally and for themselves, some times getting to where you envisioned can take some time.

My advice to a new Basenji judge? Do not uncurl a Basenji tail! Under no circumstances should this be done and there is no reason to as there is nothing in our breed standard which addresses the curl, only the set of the tail. Some tails are extremely tightly curled and attempts to uncurl them could be quite painful and could cause the dog to act out, let alone any physical damage that could result from the attempt. Please keep a copy of our breed standard handy with you in the ring and consult it if you have questions. I greatly appreciate judges who I’ve shown under doing just that. Also ask if you have questions, breed mentors will be happy to discuss the breed with you at any time.

During breed judging recently the judge said to me he wished mentors in our breed would let judges know that Basenjis carry their testicles in a line rather than side by side as most other breeds. He said that information would be very helpful for judges who do not judge the breed much. I also mentioned to him that they are very good a drawing the testicles up high when they get cold making it difficult to find them as well. If you are having difficulty locating both testicles, please be gentle and let the handler know as they may be able to assist you in locating them.

What is it about the breed that makes them irreplaceable in your life? Their intelligence, dedication and loyalty to their owners.

How much time do I spend per week preparing for exhibition? Honestly I don’t spend much time most of the year working on grooming. The exception is during the spring when they are shedding their winter coat. Then I do spend time on them so they don’t look like something a moth got ahold of!

What is the breed’s most endearing quality? Their intelligence and sense of humor. They have this love of life that takes you right along with them.

Is the breed’s temperament ideal for indoor life or are they mostly an outdoors dog? The Basenji is a primitive breed from central Africa so they are a heat loving dog. So mostly an inside dog if you live in the northern states but they’ve also adapted very well to loving the humans air conditioning and can survive quite nicely inside in the warmer climates provided they have blankets or covers they can snuggle up in.

How do I place my puppies? My puppies are placed mostly through word of mouth of current or former owners of my dogs. Several of my puppies have gone to live with people who’ve gotten Basenjis from me in the past or have Basenjis from good friends.

At what age do I choose a show prospect? I really don’t have a particular age. I start observing my puppies from the time they pull themselves up on their feet until it’s time for them to leave. I normally make my choices based on what I need/want to carry on for breeding. Showing them is secondary. My current special came very close to being placed in a pet home but I changed my mind last minute and he stayed. Good thing I did.

My favorite dog show memory? I actually have several, but if I had to choose just one, it would be the one where my Justin (Ch. Possum Creek Just My Luck, JC) won the Hound Group.

It was 1995, Justin was dark brindle and at that time the color was still new for our breed and not widely accepted in the ring yet. Justin had won the breed and we were in the Hound Group. Our judge was Alfred Treen, someone I had not shown to before that day. We made the cut in the group and Mr. Treen came down the line, stopping at each dog to look at him/her. Once he reached the end of the line, he turned and came back up the line, again stopping at each dog to consider them. Except for Justin who he skipped. My heart sank but then mentally I kicked myself thinking I should feel lucky to have just made the cut. I leaned out slightly to look up/down the line and realized I was the only owner handler in the cut. Again, I thought I should feel lucky to just be here in this line up of handlers and dogs.

Once Mr. Treen had looked over each dog he went out into the center of the ring, crossed his arms, again looking up and down the line, stroking his goatee. He then stopped, looked over at us, pointed and said, “You’re first.” I don’t know for certain but I’m sure my mouth dropped open. As I stood up, I picked Justin up and carried him to the first place sign. I picked him up as my legs were shaking so much that I was sure I would fall over him because my feet weren’t working right. As I stood there clutching Justin, waiting for Mr. Treen to finish marking his book I was sure he was going to turn around and say he was sorry but he wasn’t pointing to me. But he walked up to us and handed me the blue ribbon. It was then that it registered that folks ringside were clapping for us! I had gotten my first Basenji in May 1990 and here I was five years later breeder/owner handling our breed’s third brindle Hound Group winner. Justin was my heart and soul. With him I did things I never dreamed of doing. Like the group win and traveling with him to Denmark in 2002. I miss him as much today as I did when he left me those many years ago. He showed me that even the most impossible dream can come true.

When I first started in the breed, they were known for not having good temperaments. Over the years breeders have worked very hard on temperaments and we now have some very sweet tempered dogs. This is a primitive breed, they have survived on their instincts for thousands of years. It’s going to take some time and generations before they learn to trust humans like some of the other breeds
we know.

 

Sue Kite

I live in Marion Ohio and I’ve been a dog groomer for many years. Basenjis have been my passion for almost 49 years, having acquired my first in 1971. We did our first breeding in 1972, which produced our first homebred champion. I have judged many sweepstakes assignments and hope to obtain my judging license.

The secret to a successful breeding program is careful planning and only breeding the best and healthiest to each other. You can’t expect good when you breed mediocrity.

My advice to a new judge: don’t ever uncurl the tail or try to examine them on the ground. Speak to them on the table, give them an ear scratch and go over them. They are a short-haired breed so there is nothing to hide with hair.

There are many things I love about our breed. I like the size, lack of coat to groom, athleticism and don’t need a dog that hangs onto every word. We socialize ours extensively, so we are proud of our sweet temperaments.

How much time do I spend per week preparing these coatless beauties for exhibition? They are pretty much wash and wear. When I show them, they get a bath, nails ground, tail and whiskers trimmed and off we go.

What is the breed’s most endearing quality? Depends on who you ask when you use the term endearing. I like to cuddle with mine. Some are lickers, some are not. After they do the Basenji 500, they are ready to just hang out.

Is the breed’s temperament ideal for indoor life or is the breed mostly an outdoors dog? Basenjis are indoor dogs, can spend some outside time but not a lot in the cold.

How do I place my puppies? Placing pups can be long term. People contact us, they fill out our questionnaire, we talk to them and develop a relationship, have them come and visit and they may or may not get a puppy. If they do, we stay in contact and welcome them to our Basenji family.

At what age do I choose a show prospect? We watch the pups from five weeks until eight or nine and determine if they can be a show prospect. We keep one or two to grow them out more and then finally decide.

There are so many dog show memories to choose one. Am/can CH Klassics Rooty Toot Toot winning her first Canadian best in show from the bred by class, winning the BCOA national 2x, Canadian national same year and best of opposite sex at Westminster three times in a row. Her children are national specialty winners, #1 in several countries. Crufts best of breed seven times. Enough said?

Basenjis aren’t for everyone but those of us who love them, there’s no other breed.

 

Chris Maxka

Chris Maxka may have changed her own name from Marshall to Roper to Olson to Maxka, but she never changed her kennel name: SunDiata. And although she changed her address from Seattle to Iowa to Wisconsin to Massachusetts to Arizona to Pennsylvania, she never changed her breed: Basenjis. This is her 50th year breeding SunDiata Basenjis, and her puppies are beyond the 20th generation of linebreedings. She is also the current Chair of the BCOA Health Committee.

I live on two acres outside Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. I am retired after 25 years working in academia, first at the University of Arizona, then at Northern Arizona University. Outside of dogs, I have a vegetable garden, follow politics and I enjoy showing, breeding and ring stewarding.

This is my 50th year in Basenjis. I showed my first Basenji in 1969 and bred her the next year.

The secret to a successful breeding program is linebreeding. I know it’s not the trend these days, but I was mentored by the real old-timers and establishing a clear linebred line that reproduced the same type, litter after litter, was the goal for everyone back then.

My advice to a new Basenji judge? Don’t be afraid to choose the dog that is a little bit different, if it appears to match your understanding of the standard. Don’t just pick the best dog that is of the same type as most of the others—take a close look at that different one. Look for details such as almond eyes, small ears, short muzzles and ultra-high tailsets.

What is it about the breed that makes them irreplaceable in my life? They all read my mind. We are connected like the Na’vi in the movie Avatar.

How much time do I spend per week preparing for exhibition? Almost none, lol. Keep up with the nails, smooth out the tail with a little trim with the curved shears, if necessary. Some lines have beautiful sleek coats, no undercoat, a quarter inch long. This is ideal. Others have varying hair length and varying degrees of undercoat. These require more grooming, most probably stripping. But Basenjis are generally shown fairly natural and whiskers and dew claws are often not removed.

What is the breed’s most endearing quality? Intelligence. Emotional intelligence, if you are in tune.

Is the breed’s temperament ideal for indoor life or are they mostly an outdoors dog? Perfect for indoors, they want to be with you, have you in sight, always. Very clean indoors. A happy Basenji can be left loose in the house when you are gone, but that may involve having two or more.

How do I place my puppies? Referrals only.

At what age do I choose a show prospect? This varies. Many an ugly duckling turns into a swan. And many a gorgeous puppy heartbreakingly ends up with an off bite, or one testicle, or some other late developing flaw. I try to watch the puppies a lot around eight to nine weeks and make preliminary judgements. I re-evaluate at six months and then at a year.

My favorite dog show memory? The most recent: looking up and seeing my Chui on the JumboTron at Madison Square Garden when he was in the Hound Group B at Westminster. I gasped, the image was huge and he was sailing across the screen.

This is a most captivating and intelligent breed, but not for everyone. Not a dog that tolerates being left alone all day while his owner is at work. No, they don’t bark, but they can make a blood-curdling racket when unhappy and neighbors will complain. I look for homes where someone is home most of the time or there is another dog as a companion when the owner leaves. This breed is a keen natural hunter and will run out the front door if given the chance. On the other hand, you couldn’t ask for a better dog in the wilderness, trotting along the trail with you or curled up around the campfire or in the sleeping bag in the tent. Also, I swear they are telepathic.

 

Cecily RappÉ

I have been in the breed since 1982. Starting showing in 1984 and bred my first litter in 1986. I have bred on a very limited basis as my dogs are house dogs and I wouldn’t be able to have them stay that way if I had too many. I pride myself on quality rather
than quantity.

Before a breeding I have an image in my head as to what I believe the breeding will produce, keeping in mind that the grandparents have a lot of influence on the outcome. I also believe some of us have that gut feeling for a good breeding, which you have or you don’t. Of course, of upmost importance is having a great bitch to start with. The bitch line is so important in anyone’s breeding program. Our breed’s temperaments have improved so much in recent years and I believe we breeders as a whole have worked hard to reach that pinnacle in all of our breeding programs. Hats off to all of us.

My advice to judges would be that our breed “reads” you in a split second. Your approach can make or break your experience with them. If you are apprehensive, the Basenji will wonder what’s wrong and the trust is broken. Also I believe an open palm, rather than your knuckles, for them to sniff represents you are open to them. A little scratch under the chin is also very helpful. They don’t do well with over the head approaches. If you approach them with confidence and respect they will, in turn, trust your motives. They have survived for thousands of years by being cautious.

This breed has old souls and that is what endears me to them. They are also free spirits. Just watching them takes my breath away in how they move, their elegance, curiosity and their love of life. They are affectionate without smothering you and know what makes you tick. They enjoy teasing you with their antics which can be very frustrating but keeps you laughing in the end.

Basenjis are definitely indoor, outdoor dogs and make great bedfellows. They want to know what you are doing and this causes anxiety for them when they don’t know where you are. They do well with consistent habits and ways of life such as where you are at certain times of the day, your work schedule, etc.

I pick my puppies at eight weeks and mostly I evaluate them on the ground by how they move and carry themselves. Is it correct for the breed? Do they exhibit the qualities that make them a Basenji? In other words, I look at the overall dog rather than “parts”. Parts are important but one can get stuck if they don’t look at what a dog has to offer in the overall.

I have many favorite dog show moments. One that comes to mind is when my Bred by dog, CH Zindika’s Johnny Come Greatly JC’ was being naughty in the Winner’s dog class at the National. He kept jumping up and grabbing my skort. He would not gait in a straight line as he was having way too much fun playing like this. Thank God the judge was patient. I rolled them up to keep him off my leg which made me look ridiculous but it got the job done. The audience was laughing at the spectacle. He went onto WD and BOW to finish his championship. He later became the winningest Basenji of all time with 59 all breed Best in Shows. To this day his record has yet to be broken. He had a great sense of humor and his temperament made him a great ambassador for the breed.

I’d also like to share that I am winding down in the breeding department but have found some folks to pass the baton to that I am grateful for. They have the breed’s best interest at heart and are an asset for the future. 

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